The European Defence Agency was established under a Joint Action of the Council of Ministers on 12 July, 2004, "to support the Member States and the Council in their effort to improve European defence capabilities in the field of crisis management and to sustain the European Security and Defence Policy as it stands now and develops in the future”. On 12 July 2011, the Council adopted a Decision defining the statute, seat and operational rules of the European Defence Agency. This Council decision replaced the Council Joint Action.
EDA acts as a catalyst, promotes collaborations, launches new initiatives and introduces solutions to improve defence capabilities. But it can only succeed when its shareholders – the participating Member States – deliver these capabilities.
The European Defence Agency, within the overall mission set out in the Joint Action, is ascribed four functions, covering:
- developing defence capabilities;
- promoting Defence Research and Technology (R&T);
- promoting armaments co-operation;
- creating a competitive European Defence Equipment Market and strengthening the European Defence, Technological and Industrial Base.
These four functions form the chain for capability development, from defining requirements via research and armaments cooperation to industrial supply. This integrated approach will contribute to coherent capability development, where demand and supply are optimally connected in order to save time and costs for governemnts. More collaboration will, in turn, provide opportunities for industrial restructuring and progress towards the continental-scale demand and market, which industry needs.